We’re all at risk from scary medicine side effects, but we have to weigh the risks with the benefits

Media reports have emerged of psychotic episodes in children brought about by a common asthma medication, Singulair. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which approves and monitors drugs in Australia, has apparently received 90 reports of psychiatric events.

So this leads to the question of how drugs are approved, and whether we are all at risk of harmful side effects from the medicines we take.

This issue is more complex than telling everyone about every possible side effect. First, there is no way to predict if an individual will be affected until they try the medication.

Second, to do so would be a scare campaign – as a pharmacist, I can scare anyone off taking anything if I put my mind to it, but that’s not my job. My job is to weigh risk and benefit – and taking any medication is a calculated risk.

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